Shine on

Here I come/with love/and not hatred.

Reggae music lost a legend and an original shining star on July 1, when singer and recording artist Dennis Brown passed away from pneumonia at the age of 42. Brown was a pioneer who helped bring reggae onto the world stage. He was 13 years old when he started recording at Studio One, and became a child star who took the world by storm. His career would go on to span more than 25 years.

"The General" is remembered for such unforgettable releases as Could It Be, The General, Overproof and Vision of a Reggae King. Brown’s catalog is ridiculously large, dating back to his days working with fellow legend Coxsone Dodd to more recent work at Bunny Gemini’s Record Factory. His voice and style are among the most imitated in reggae-dancehall; his presence will be missed both internationally and by Detroit’s vital reggae community and fans.

Throughout the ’70s and ’80s, Brown would work with fabled producers including Derrick Harriot, Niney the Observer, Joe Gibbs, Sly & Robbie and Tad Dawkins. These various collaborations created such chart-toppers as "Cassandra," "Money in My Pocket," "Wolves and Leopards" and "Get Myself Together." A whole generation of reggae fans literally grew up on the Brown sound.

"Dennis Brown was like a Michael Jackson in the reggae community," says Lorenzo, owner of Strictly Roots Music in Detroit. "A lot of people grew up with him. Just a positive guy, man. When Bob Marley died, a lot of people thought he would step into that place. But he maintained in the dancehall, meaning the places where reggae music is played."

Brown, a devout Rastafarian and member of the Twelve Tribes of Israel Organization, received a state funeral at home in Jamaica. Suffice it to say, Dennis Brown’s music will live on in the hearts and sound systems of many, locally and abroad.

Khary Kimani Turner covers the hip-hop nation for Metro Times. E-mail [email protected]
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